Xu Bing’s $3 Million “Phoenixes” Go On Display In Beijing

12 Ton Sculptures, Made Of Discarded Construction Materials, Purchased By Taiwanese Super-Collector Lin Baili

One of Xu Bing's "Phoenixes" is hoisted by construction cranes outside of Beijing's Today Art Museum

One of Xu Bing's "Phoenixes" is hoisted by construction cranes outside of Beijing's Today Art Museum

Last week, Jing Daily covered the announcement by the Taiwanese auction house Ravenel that it would unveil Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing’s latest creation, his colossal “Phoenixes,” (which weigh in at a hefty 12 tons each) at the Today Art Museum in Beijing. These twin phoenixes, commissioned by Ravenel and purchased by Taiwanese super-collector Lin Baili (Barry Lam) for 200 million RMB (US$2.93 million), mark a conceptual turning point for Xu Bing, as the sculptures take a more critical look at the human cost of China’s 30 years of economic transformation.

From the Global Times:

[Xu’s newest creation] is currently on exhibition in front of Today Art Museum in Beijing’s CBD and is made from discarded construction materials such as steel bars, safety helmets and strips of tarpaulin.

“We are seeing numerous buildings emerging in China and few people are interested in the deserted construction materials as they are marveling at the majestic buildings,” explained Xu, adding that he was quite shocked when he saw the poor conditions that constructing workers lived in two years ago when he was conducting research for his work.

Xu then came up with the idea of incorporating discarded building materials in his work after visiting several sites. “Through my work I’m trying to make people think more about what happens behind large-scale city construction.”

Detail of one of Xu Bing's "Phoenixes." Yellow construction helmet clearly visible

Detail of one of Xu Bing's "Phoenixes." Yellow construction helmet clearly visible

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Art & Auction, Culture